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Cyprus Island Information Areas Paphos
 

Paphos
 
Paphos became the capital of Cyprus under the successors of Alexander the Great - the Ptolemies and in those days its harbor was a busy, thriving port. It continued as the island's first city for more than seven centuries, retaining its importance under Roman rule its most famous Governor Sergius Paulus, was converted to Christianity by St Paul in 45 AD. But Paphos history dates back a great deal further. In fact the whole area abounds in historical and archaeological treasure.

Capital of the west and positively teaming with history is Paphos, site of the island's second international airport. The resort town has as its focal point a charming fishing harbor by Paphos Fort, lined with open-air cafés and taverns that serve a tempting menu of the day's catch.

It was on Paphos shoreline that the mythological Goddess Aphrodite was born - a legend that spawned a massive wave of cult worship from neighboring countries that lasted several centuries. Landmarks associated with Aphrodite are the chunky, rugged rocks of her beautiful birth shore known as the Aphrodite Rocks or "Petra Tou Romiou", the evocative sanctuary of Aphrodite at Kouklia Village, one-time shrine and scene of pagan festivals for thousands, the Baths of Aphrodite at Polis, supposed source of fertility and the Fountain of Love, or Fontana Amorosa, a few miles further into the Akamas Peninsula.

Even the town's name is linked to the Goddess, for Paphos was the name of the mythological daughter of Venus and Pygmalion. Another 'first' for Paphos was its early recognition of Christianity. While under Roman rule in 45 AD, it was here that Saint Paul converted the first ruler to the faith.

The legacy from its remarkable history adds up to nothing less than an open museum, so much so that UNESCO simply added the whole town to its World Cultural Heritage List. Among the treasures unearthed, are the remarkable mosaics in the Houses of Dionysos, Theseus and Aion, beautifully preserved after 16 centuries under the soil. Then there are the mysterious vaults and caves, the Tombs of the Kings, the Pillar to which Saint Paul was allegedly tied and whipped, the ancient Odeon Theatre and other places of interest including the Byzantine Museum and the District Archaeological Museum.

Geroskipou with its remarkable five-domed Byzantine church of Ayia Paraskevi, and its Folk Art Museum is a village known for many years now for its special delight `loukoumi'.

Ayios Neophytos Monastery, famous for its `Encleistra', Enclosure, carved out of the mountain by the hermit himself, boasts some of the finest Byzantine frescoes of the l2th and l5th centuries. Chrysorrogiatissa Monastery makes its own range of wines using homegrown grapes. A small museum dedicated to Archbishop Makarios, first president of Cyprus, is found at Pano Panagia. From here it is a rewarding drive to the majestic Cedar Valley, home of the indigenous Cyprus horned sheep, the moufflon.

Lempa village can be singled out as one with particular historic significance. In its pretty setting near the sea, Lempa's link with prehistory is the site of a chalcolithic settlement. Today the faithful reconstruction of several dwellings, gives an insight into chalcolithic life on the island.

Further north lies a quiet resort, Polis, overlooking the beautiful Chrysochou Bay with its charming fishing refuge of Latsi.

The low-lying scenery around Paphos, much of it cultivated with banana plantations and backed by the foothills of the western Troodos range, has an attractively open quality to it. This is the gateway to the Peninsula of Akamas, a natural wilderness of incredible beauty with breathtaking gorges, spectacular coastlines and enjoyable nature trails.

The charming west coast town of Paphos focuses around an attractive little harbor whose picturesque open-air fish restaurants line a quayside of bright fishing boats and pleasure craft.

With a population of just 38.000, Paphos nests in the lee of the Western Troodos Mountains, which add another dimension to this area of scenic beauty. The recent addition of its own international airport nearby has opened up the Paphos area, and the resort is graced with some luxury hotels along the coastline.

Paphos has an air of holiday charm combined with history, and older-day elegance is lent to the town by its classical style buildings in the upper part of town, which leads to the shopping area. The lower part of the town - known as Kato Paphos has a life of its own albeit so close by, down near the sea -home of the harbor, the fish taverns, souvenir shops and several beautiful hotels with important archaeological sites around them.


 


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